Osama bin Laden
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


Time to be reconciled ...


We love death. The US loves life. That is the difference between us two.

The dream to kill me will never be completed

I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived.

I was never afraid of death ... As Muslims, we believe that when we die, we go to heaven. Before a battle, God sends us ... tranquility.

I'm fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans.

We do not mind establishing a long-term truce between us and you.

We treat them in the same way. Those who kill our women and innocent, we kill their women and innocent, until they refrain.

If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you.

The insistence of the Danish government to refrain from apologizing and its refusal to punish the criminals and take action to prevent this crime from being repeated... shows that the notions of freedom of speech have no roots, especially when it comes to Muslims.

We have repeatedly issued warnings, over a number of years. Following these warnings and these calls, anti-American explosions took place in a number of Islamic countries.

The operations are under preparation and you will see them in your houses as soon as they are complete.

We had patience in our fighting with the Soviet Union with simple weapons for 10 years. We exhausted their economy, so they disappeared. We will not abandon our fight until the weapons run out

Three months after our blessed attack against the main infidel West, especially America, and two months after the infidel's attacks on Islam, we would like to talk about some of the implications of those incidents.

We know that the majority of your people want this war to end and opinion polls show the Americans do not want to fight the Muslims on Muslim land, nor do they want Muslims to fight them on their land. Bush tried to ignore the polls that demanded that he end the war in Iraq.

I'm fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans.

Victory and glory or misery and humiliation.

Remain vigilant.

By God's grace, ... we have formed with many other Islamic groups and organizations in the Islamic world a front called the International Islamic Front to do jihad against the crusaders and Jews.

We should fully understand our religion. Fighting is a part of our religion and our Sharia [an Islamic legal code]. Those who love God and his Prophet and this religion cannot deny that. Whoever denies even a minor tenet of our religion commits the gravest sin in Islam.

Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God . . . . I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America.

I know absolutely nothing of this man. I condemn what happened (on September 11).

I heard about the bombings the same way everyone else heard about them, from the television or radio. I did not order them but was very glad for what happened to the Americans there.

The pieces of the bodies of infidels were flying like dust particles. If you would have seen it with your own eyes, you would have been very pleased, and your heart would have been filled with joy." -- At the wedding of his son in southern Kandahar about the 17 sailors who died suicide bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen

Every American man is an enemy to us.

It is far better for anyone to kill a single American soldier than to squander his efforts on other activities.

We are seeking to incite the (Islamic) nation to rise up to liberate its land and to (conduct) jihad (holy war) for the sake of God.

Responding to the question "are you trying to acquire chemical and nuclear weapons? Acquiring weapons for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty. If I have indeed acquired these weapons, then I thank God for enabling me to do so. And if I seek to acquire these weapons, I am carrying out a duty. It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims.

For us, the idea was not to get involved more than necessary in the fight against the Russians, which was the business of the Americans, but rather to show our solidarity with our Islamist brothers. I discovered that it was not enough to fight in Afghanistan, but that we had to fight on all fronts against communist or Western oppression. The urgent thing was communism, but the next target was America... This is an open war up to the end, until victory.

Several months after being expelled from the Sudan, bin Laden issues his "Declaration of War Against the Americans Who Occupy the Land of the Two Holy Mosques." It reads, in part: Muslims burn with anger at America. For its own good, America should leave [Saudi Arabia.] ... There is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. ... The presence of the USA Crusader military forces on land, sea and air of the states of the Islamic Gulf is the greatest danger threatening the largest oil reserve in the world. The existence of these forces in the area will provoke the people of the country and induces aggression on their religion, feelings and prides and pushes them to take up armed struggle against the invaders occupying the land. ... Due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted, i.e. using fast-moving, light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other words, to initiate a guerrilla war, where the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it.

The country of the Two Holy Places has in our religion a peculiarity of its own over the other Muslim countries. In our religion, it is not permissible for any non-Muslim to stay in our country. Therefore, even though American civilians are not targeted in our plan, they must leave. We do not guarantee their safety, because we are in a society of more than a billion Muslims."

TIME: Are you responsible for the bomb attacks on the two American embassies in Africa? The International Islamic Front for Jihad against the U.S. and Israel has, by the grace of God, issued a crystal-clear fatwah calling on the Islamic nation to carry on jihad [holy war] aimed at liberating holy sites. The nation of Muhammad has responded to this appeal. If the instigation for jihad against the Jews and the Americans in order to liberate al-Aksa Mosque and the Holy Ka'aba [Islamic shrines in Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia] is considered a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal. Our job is to instigate and, by the grace of God, we did that, and certain people responded to this instigation.

Acquiring [chemical and nuclear] weapons for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty. If I have indeed acquired these weapons, then I thank God for enabling me to do so. And if I seek to acquire these weapons, I am carrying out a duty. It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims.

Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God. To call us Enemy No. 1 or 2 does not hurt us. is confident that the Islamic nation will carry out its duty. I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America.

God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed -- when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way (and) to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.

Admitting responsibility for attacks on US on September 11, 2001, on videotape shown on Al Jazeera, October 29, 2004: I have benefited so greatly from the jihad in Afghanistan that it would have been impossible for me to gain such a benefit from any other chance and this cannot be measured by tens of years but rather more than that. Praise and gratitude be to God.

We saw the brutality of the Russians bombing Mujaheddins' positions, by grace of God, we dug a good number of huge tunnels and built in them some storage places and in some others we built a hospital. So our experience in this jihad was great, by the grace of God, praise and glory be to Him, and the most of what we benefited from was that the myth of the superpower was destroyed not only in my mind but also in the minds of all Muslims. Slumber and fatigue vanished and so was the terror which the U.S. would use in its media by attributing itself superpower status or which the Soviet Union used by attributing itself as a superpower. In our religion, there is a special place in the hereafter for those who participate in jihad.

Your security is not in the hands of [Democratic presidential candidate John] Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe.



Update (08/03/2002):
Marc Penfield quotes a website on 2/01/2002 in which "George Rijcke, an operative with interpol in Burssels, says that he saw a copy of bin Laden's birth records and they give March 10, 1957, 10:58 AM, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Marc says that the progressions fit perfectly for this time using LMT."

Marguerite dar Boggia quoted Zip Dobyns in July 2002, that Karen Hamaker-Zondag said she had data for from his hospital records. It is March 10, 1957, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, at 10:58 AM EET. LMR wrote email to Karen who answered, “My source is the same as Noel Tyl's: William de Rijcke in Belgium, a physician and astrologer, who has a good friend working at Interpol. This friend has been searching the archives of Interpol and found the date and time. He gave this to William de Rijcke who in his turn spread the news. I heard somebody mentioning that it was a hospital record, but I am not 100% sure it is. Maybe Noel knows, as he also has informed several people metioning William de Rijcke. I knew already for quite some time that Interpol stuck to March 10, 1957. They insisted that the data the US govenment used were wrong. So I was not surprised that this date was mentioned by the friend of William de Rijcke.”  Noel Tyl wrote, “As you probably did, I was deluged with everyone's theory about bin Laden. As you probably didn't (:-) I threw it all out after a while, because it was all so wild and confusing. …..One of my students, Alan Ouimet, is a retired FBI agent. He tried to tap into the Interpol annals, etc.” Alan J. Ouimet wrote, 7/26/2002, “Dear Lois and Noel: I am only to happy to share concerning Usama. The Interpol DOB - no time indicated is March 10, 1957 in Jidda. I have worked with this chart and am convinced that of the many DOB's on him - this is the one.”

LMR noted, 7/31/2002, “The policy of AstroDatabank is that when data with many contradictions is said to be a specific date and time, documentation is required. Inasmuch as we are not able to get official records and I do not even have any copy of an Arabian birth certificate to know if the time of birth is indeed recorded, or whether Interpol has a hospital or family record, I find it necessary to keep a rating of DD on these data. Though I would dearly wish to say that we have an accurate and precise date and time for bin Laden, these are still hearsay data, second hand at best. I could only recommend that we study the charts with caution.

#Zip Dobyns writes, " I'm testing a time of about 4:50 PM, 3 hours later than UT."

#LMR working with 2:23 PM as of 9/18/2001. Other dates are given: Kelly Wicker writes, "So far there are three birth times known.
July 30 1957
March 10 1957
June 27 1957

#Robert Blaschke seems to be doing a fair amount of research on this subject.

#Robert Blaschke sends the following: From a US State Department Factsheet located at the following website,
http://www.fpc.gov/CRS_reps/crsterr3.htm, we find that was born July 30, 1957, presumably in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.)

#Michael Rideout sent the following comprehensive post on 9/16/2001:
"Regarding the birth date of Usamah Bin Laden, I've seen web pages that mention only a year-- 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1958-- and I've seen web pages and posts that give a variety of dates-- March 10, 1957; April 7, 1957; June 28, 1957; July 28, 1957; July 30, 1957; and October 3, 1957.
"According to an interview with Bin Laden which can be found on various web pages, he himself has given his year of birth as 1377 AH ("1377 hegira"). If that is so, then he had to have been born sometime between approximately July 29, 1957 and July 17, 1958-- give or take a day or so for both dates. This would mean that 1955 and 1956 are out of the question-- nor can March 10, 1957; April 7, 1957; and June 28, 1957 be correct.

"I think the July 28, 1957 and July 30, 1957 dates look suspicious because they are approximately the first day of the Islamic year 1377 AH. The first day of each month is tricky to determine either ahead of time, or by a computer algorithm, because it begins when the crescent Moon is first spotted following the New Moon, and this event is subject to various factors. Also, the day begins at sunset on what we would call the previous day, so if for example the first day of 1377 AH was July 29, 1957, this would mean that it actually began at sunset on July 28, 1957!

"Obviously, it's possible that Bin Laden was indeed born on the first day of 1377 AH. However, I can't help wondering if the July 28, 1957 and July 30, 1957 dates might conceivably have been arrived at in the following way: "Question: "When was Bin Laden born?" "Answer: "In 1377 AH."

"Question: "And when was 1377 AH?" "Answer: "On July 28 [or 30], 1957."

"As far as the other dates, I've personally seen people convert dates incorrectly from one calendar to another. For example, I used to work for a Korean-born man (whose family moved to America when he was a child) who celebrates his birthday as February 14, 1958, although he told me that he actually has two birthdays. When I asked him what he meant, he said he'd been told that he was born on the 14th day of the 2nd month of the Year of the Dog. The Year of the Dog began in 1958, so he had arbitrarily decided to celebrate his birthday on February (2nd month) 14 (14th day), 1958 (Year of the Dog)-- even though a correct conversion would put his birthday on about April 2, 1958 (depending on what time the day begins in Korea, as well as time zone considerations). The Year of the Dog didn't even begin until February 18, 1958-- four days after the day he celebrates as his birthday! It might be possible that Bin Laden's birthday-- if it's even known-- was incorrectly converted in such a fashion (e.g., the 10th day of the 3rd month).

"I would also point out the uncertainty surrounding Dodi's birthday (remember Diana and Dodi?), as his birthday had been given as April 15, but it was stated by several people that it's a fairly common practice in the Middle East to use the 15th of the month as the birthday, due to the fact that they don't always note the actual day of birth, just the month and year of birth. Even though none of the dates given for Bin Laden fall on the 15th of a month in the Gregorian calendar, we should beware of the possibility of a similar practice of using some arbitrary day of the Islamic month of birth.

"Then there is the possibility that, some years ago, someone in an intelligence agency may have heard that Bin Laden had just celebrated his birthday (if he even celebrates his birthday) on some day of the year, such as March 10. They may have then taken that date and used it with his year of birth, which seems to have been 1957 (or perhaps 1958). If this sort of thing did happen, it would be wrong, as a particular date (month and day) in the Islamic year does not fall on the same date each year in the Gregorian calendar. For example, if it had been learned that Bin-Laden had celebrated his 30th birthday on March 10, 1987, it would be incorrect to conclude that he was therefore born on March 10, 1957. It just doesn't work that way.

"Also, when Prince Dipendra murdered his family and shot himself, I saw some web pages which gave his birthday incorrectly, and they cited CIA sources! This makes me wonder if the "field information" gathered by intelligence agencies can be trusted, especially when it comes to people's birthdays.

"Additionally, there is always the chance that a Gregorian date written in numeric format might be misread, such as 3-10-1957 being variously read as either March 10, 1957 or 3 October, 1957. "In light of these facts and considerations, I would be extremely cautious about accepting *any* date of birth for Bin Laden without a grain of salt the size of Jupiter."

#Jayj Jacobs reports that "Bin Laden, Al-Jazeera - and I'' by Jamal Abdul Latif Ismail, includes an interview in which Bin Laden says he was born 45 years ago, in the Muslim year of 1377, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The family later moved between the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the port city of Jiddah. (Four months after Aug 1998 is December. 1998 minus 45 is 1953.)

#David G. Baker deduces January 3, 1955, 8:50:03 AM.

#Robert Currey writes 12/2001, "Justin Toper telephoned to say his contact confirms UBL was born in July 1957 though he has no more details. So I am sorry not to be able to provide at this stage. As I have mentioned his source [who Justin wants to remain confidential] is a journalist in the Middle East who has kept a file on UBL from birth and though the journalist has access to 'official records' not open to the public, he says that the record of the day of birth was not kept."

#Tony Louis writes on 12/10/01: “This message appeared on Angelicus Merlin. Included is my reply:
The site http://www.islamicfinder.org has a conversion program. The 10th day of the 3rd Month of 1377 Hijri =
Gregorian-Hijri Dates Converter Day / Month / Year Hijri
You entered: 10 / 3 / 1377  The conversion result is: Friday 4 October 1957 C.E.
(There is a small probability of one day error.)

#CF Perez wrote: "I had acquired information from a Muslim historian, (on the Internet) who said bin Laden was born 3rd month, 10th day of the Muslim calendar year 1377.
The FBI lists his DOB as March 10, 1957--the third month and tenth day of our calendar year--incorrectly transposing the Islamic days and months for ours, getting the year correctly. The March 10 1957 date confirms that the 3rd month and 10th day are what we are looking for. I fear that I cannot I go back to check this Muslim data (3rd month, tenth day, year 1377) and need a little help to conclude that these indications are consistent with the facts. The pages I once had access to on 9/11 are now gone. So, I go from memory on this, frustratingly! If someone has access to the Arabic notation for the bin Laden birth, and I have remembered incorrectly, let me know, please. It will, if proven incorrect, make all the following false.

"Following the story after September 11 with some vehemence, I examined all the charts proposed at the Astrodatabank.com site. Proposed dates include:
March 10, July 27 or 29 and Oct. 3, in 1957. The October 3rd chart stood out like a sore thumb, but I had to wait to resolve the problem between the calendars before I could comment.

#Michael Rideout, among other judicious comments on the conversions of the calendars, makes a point about the possibility that the March 10 and October 3 dates may have had the month/date transposed. The 10th month and 3rd day "switch" is a curious phenomenon: the calendar translator would verify that the Muslim date occurs on the 10th month of our calendar, and on the third day (10/03)! But, it is not a classic mix-up between date and month. Instead, a pattern emerges which explains all the dates at once.

"Everyone tried using our Western dates to describe the bin Laden date. That is clearly foggy thinking. Using Michael Rideout's (www.astrodatabank.com) article about the Islamic calendar, the new moon of July 27th (on our calendar) would mark the first day of the Muslim year 1377, the "New Year's Eve" of 1957.

"We must realize that the use of the crescent moon as a symbol for the Muslim World would be tied to the culture's calendar tradition. In Muslim fashion, we would count the two days following the new moon to sight the first appearance of the crescent moon, and so the established counting of the first day of the year is at the first appearance of the crescent moon, occurring usually within two days, probably the 29th or 30th of July, 1957, depending on one's location. If the crescent cannot be viewed until some later hour, it may depend on sea level and horizon variances as well.

"Michael Rideout says of July 27, that since it signifies the first day of the year, that it is the year significator, and a popular way to show discretion with private information: just give the year. All the July dates (27-30) in 1957 are "Happy New Year," and generically related to the new year holiday, not necessarily the birth data of bin Laden. After the new moon of July, using our calendar (the Muslim month of "Muharram") we may find the third month, count forward another ten days and expect to find the correction between the two calendars, ours and the one followed by the Muslim population. The next new moon (for month Two) occurs Aug. 26, month "Safar"; the third new moon occurs on Sept 23, month "Rabi-Awwal." Now, add ten days to the Sept 23 new moon and we find October 3 1957, "three months and ten days of 1377." October 3rd is the date which actually does appear to be in the third month (Rabi-Awwal) and tenth day--following the appearances of the New Moon's crescent after Day One of year 1377, the year of bin Laden's birth. I make this conclusion perhaps too quickly, but the little bit of math just seemed to fit too perfectly--this after having seen and been very impressed by the chart for October 3, 1957.

"I was inclined to place the sun on the ascendant, so I drew a chart for 6:16 a.m. I have now revised that to be about an hour earlier, in order to fit the constellated Mars/Jupiter "besiegement" of his Sun into the first house. This is a pure guess, but it seemed to emphasize the story of his fame and his inclinations quite neatly. I put the sun on the ascendant because Bin Laden's face is as familiar to us "as the sun." To his adherents, he represents the Sun. To us in the western world, he may represent the alchemical world's Black Sun.

"The Sun on the ascendant--when I looked at this date a few weeks ago, right after the attacks--immediately struck me because of the purely Libra characteristics of his face, which correspond to the appearance of the typical Libra qualities: high arched brow, mild, polite manner. His smiling "beatific" attitude seems just so blessedly pacific: Libra. With that besieged solar ascendant I found a spectacular signature which describes the high, arched (Libra) eyebrows and the medical history: he has been on kidney dialysis in the last 4 years. (Kidney is ruled by Libra).

"One of his teachers, "Brian Fyfield-Shayler, 69, gave the then 13-year-old bin Laden and 30 other privileged classmates attending al-Thagh school, an élite Western-style Saudi school in Jedda, four one-hour English lessons a week during 1968 and 1969. He described bin Laden as a 'shy, retiring and courteous' boy who was unfailingly polite. 'He was very courteous - more so than any of the others in his class. Physically, he was outstanding because he was taller, more handsome and fairer than most of the other boys. He also stood out as he was singularly gracious and polite, and had a great deal of inner confidence,' said Fyfield-Shayler." Seems there are enough Libra keywords in that paragraph. http://www.observer.co.uk/focus/story/0,6903,582138,00.html

"Jupiter rules the 6th house. Libra's ruler Venus is in her fall, in the 2nd house, in Scorpio, ruled by the warrior Mars--in a mutual reception. Venus' lack of strength in Scorpio (for health indicators) cannot help but weaken the Jupiter. But it strengthens Mars, as he is located on the ascendant. Ruler of the chart Venus is at 22 Scorpio, currently getting the square from Uranus. He is currently agitated, indeed. Probably moving around a bit and with inconveniences--interruptions. The south node is in the 8th house, squared Uranus in Leo in the 11th of this chart leading me to believe a brief sudden death will be his fate. I guess we all say, "Duh!" to that. This would perhaps be in an aircraft, like his father before him, who died in the US in 1968 in a Cessna crash--his own plane.

"The genesis of Bin Laden's conversion, Salhi says, began between 1977 and 1978, as radical Palestinian groups emulated Ayatollah Khomeini's use of cassette tapes to propagate the Islamic revolution in Iran in their operations against Israel." http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/articles.html?id=010414007821&query=hoyos

"Also, using this birth date and progressing to January 1979, when the Russians exited Afghanistan, the 22nd year of life which occasioned his "conversion" to take to the Afghani cause and shun his comfortable background, I find the progressed ascendant at ZERO Scorpio. How fitting, to leave the rulership of Venus (which is ruled by Mars anyway) and absorb the Scorpio rulership of Mars as a life significator.

"Between 1989-1991 Saudi officials seized bin Ladin's passport in a bid to prevent him from consolidating contacts with extremists whom he had befriended during the Afghan war. In 1991, he migrated from the Arabian peninsula after declaring the Saudi ruling family corrupt and 'insufficiently Islamic'."

"In 1994, he was stripped of his citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Given the "acceptance process" to which bin Laden was subjected by the Taliban, a rather dare devil procedure involving the stealing of jetliners to provide wholesale importation of tons of goods--presumably weaponry--from various locations in Islam--he obviously passed muster with the Taleban in 1996.

"With the Taliban's blessing, Bin Laden effectively had hijacked Ariana, the national civilian airline of Afghanistan. For four years, according to former U.S. aides and exiled Afghan officials, Ariana's passenger and charter flights ferried Islamic militants, arms, cash and opium through the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Members of Bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network were provided false Ariana identification that gave them free run of airports in the Middle East."

"A mutual reception 'you scratch my back, and I'll return the favor,' is clearly the arrangement between the Taliban and bin Laden.

"I thank Joan Griffith, who recently joined the All_ancient discussion as a student of the history of calendars, and who does not have one astrological bone in her body, according to her private statement. She provided the key to discovering this bit of calendar work by sending me a link to a piece of free software to translate the calendars which provided the missing piece of the puzzle.

I will post this item at my website with more data as time permits. Claire-France Perez http://www.AncientSky.com"

Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin, Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin, The Prince, The Emir, Abu Abdallah, Mujahid Shaykh, Hajj, The Director


Date of Birth Used: 1957 Hair: Brown
Place of Birth: Saudi Arabia Eyes: Brown
Height: 6'4" to 6'6" Sex: Male
Weight: Approximately 160 pounds Complexion: Olive
Build: Thin Citizenship: Saudi Arabian
Language: Arabic (probably Pashtu)
Scars and Marks: None known
Remarks: Bin Laden is left-handed and walks with a cane.

30 Jul 1957 born in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, 1377 A.H., the 17th of 24 sons/52 or 55 children. There is some dispute as to the actual day, the confusion resulting from Westerners not knowing what to do with an "A.H." date. So no, we don't really know his exact birth day.
1968 Father dies in plane crash, San Antonio TX.
1979 Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
1984 Moves to Peshawar, Pakistan.
1988 creates al Qaeda.
1991 Moves to the Sudan.
1991 U.S. stations forces in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, infuriating Bin Laden.
1994 Saudi Arabia revokes his citizenship. Bin Laden Family disowns him.
Feb 1995 named in an indictment as an unindicted co-conspirator, in the first bombing of the World Trade Center. Jane's Intelligence Review.
Mar 1996 The Government of Sudan offers to U.S. custody. The United States refuses.
Aug 1996 Declares war against the United States. CIA fact sheet.
Feb 1997 "If someone can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters." Interview, quoted in unclassified CIA memo.
Feb 1998 Announces International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders.
Jul 2001 Most-wanted fugitive treated at American Hospital in Dubai, for ten days. Yes, the American Hospital. London Guardian.
12 Jul 2001 Two months and a day before 9/11, CIA agent Larry Mitchell meets with most-wanted fugitive at American Hospital in Dubai. Radio France International.
11 Sep 2001 World Trade Center bombing.

This document was given to FRONTLINE by a source close to bin Laden who would like to remain anonymous. FRONTLINE found it a very useful source of information, but could not independently verify much of the information contained herein. Some of the information is true. However, some of it runs contrary to accounts given by other reliable sources. That said, this document does provide some important details regarding bin Laden and his family life.

Born 1957 for Syrian mother, was the seventh son among fifty brothers and sisters.

Note: This document is published here exactly as in the original translated document given to FRONTLINE. No changes have been made to grammar or punctuation.

His father Mohammed Awad bin Laden came to the kingdom from Hadramout (South Yemen) sometime around 1930. The father started his life as a very poor laborer (porter in Jeddah port), to end up as owner of the biggest construction company in the kingdom. During the reign of King Saud, bin Laden the father became very close to the royal family when he took the risk of building King Saud's palaces much cheaper than the cheapest bid. He impressed King Saud with his performance but he also built good relations with other members of the royal family, especially Faisal. During the Saud-Faisal conflict in the early sixties, bin Laden the father had a big role in convincing King Saud to step down in favor of Faisal. After Saud's departure the treasury was empty and bin Laden was so supportive to King Faisal that he literally paid the civil servants' wages of the whole kingdom for six months. King Faisal then issued a decree that all construction projects should go to bin Laden. Indeed, he was appointed for a period as the minister of public works.

In 1969 the father took the task of rebuilding Al-Aqsa mosque after the fire incident. Interestingly the bin Laden family say that they have the credit of building all the three mosques, because later on their company took over the task of major extension in Mecca and Medina mosques.

The father was fairly devoted Moslem, very humble and generous. He was so proud of the bag he used when he was a porter that he kept it as a trophy in the main reception room in his palace. The father used to insist on his sons to go and manage some projects themselves.

The father had very dominating personality. He insisted to keep all his children in one premises. He had a tough discipline and observed all the children with strict religious and social code. He maintained a special daily program and obliged his children to follow. At the same time the father was entertaining with trips to the sea and desert. He dealt with his children as big men and demanded them to show confidence at young age. He was very keen not to show any difference in the treatment of his children.

Osama was exposed very early on his age to this experience but he lost his father when he was 13. He married at the age of 17 to a Syrian girl who was a relative. He grew up as religiously committed boy and the early marriage was another factor of protecting him from corruption.

Osama had his primary, secondary and even university education in Jeddah. He had a degree in public administration 1981 from King Abdul-Aziz university in Jeddah. Countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sudan are the only countries he has been to. All stories of trips to Switzerland, Philippines, and London are all unfounded.

In addition to the general Islamic commitment he started forming an Islamic responsibility at early age. His father used to host hundreds of pilgrims during Hajj season from al over the world. Some of those were senior Islamic scholars or leaders of Muslim movements. This habit went on even after his father's death through his elder brothers. He used to make good contacts and relations through those gatherings.

At secondary school and university he adopted the main trend of many educated Muslims at that time, Muslim Brotherhood. There was a collection of Muslim scholars in Jeddah and Mecca at that period. There was nothing extraordinary in his personality and that trend was rather very non-confrontational. Interestingly, the 1980 raid in the Grand Mosque in Mecca was not appealing to him, neither the theology or that group. He had two distinguished teachers in Islamic studies, which was a compulsory subject in the university. First was Abdullah Azzam who became later as one of the big names in Afghanistan and the second was Mohammed Quttub, a famous Islamic writer and philosopher.

The first encounter with Afghanistan was as early as the first two weeks of Soviet invasion. He went to Pakistan and was taken by his hosts Jamaat Islami from Karachi to Peshawar to see the refugees and meet some leaders. Some of those leaders like Rabbani and Sayyaf were common faces to him because he met them during Hajj gatherings That trip which was [a] secret trip lasted for almost a month and was an exploratory rather than action trip. He went back to the kingdom and started lobbying with his brothers, relatives and friends at the school to support the mujahedeen. He succeeded in collecting huge amount of money and material as donations to jihad. He made another trip to take this material. He took with him few Pakistanis and Afghanis who were working in bin Laden company for more than ten years. Again, he did not stay more than a month The trip was to Pakistan and the border only and was not to Afghanistan. He went on collecting money and going in short trips once or twice a year until 1982.

In 1982 he decided to go inside Afghanistan. He brought with him plenty of the construction machinery and put them at the disposal of the mujahedeen He started spending more and more time in Afghanistan occasionally joining actual battles but not in an organized manner. His presence was encouraging to more Saudis to come but the numbers were still small at that period.

In 1984 he had one further step in strengthening his presence in Afghanistan by establishing the guesthouse in Peshawar (Baitul'ansar). That house was supposed to be the first station of Arab mujahedeen when they come to Afghanistan before going to the front or start training. At that period Osama did not have his own command or training camps. He used to send the newcomers to one of the Afghan factions.

The guesthouse establishment was coinciding with the formation of Jihad Service Bureau by Abdullah Azzam in Peshawar. The Bureau was very active in terms of media, publications and charity work. The Bureau publications were important in attracting more Saudis and Arabs to Afghanistan.

In 1986 Osama decided to have his own camps inside Afghanistan and within two years he built more than six camps. Some were mobilized more than once. He decided to have his own front and to run his own battles with his own command. Among the Arab fighters he had, there were senior Arab ex-military men from Syria and Egypt with good military experience. The story of the guesthouse and the camps was very attractive for more Arab mujahedeen to come and there was a significant surge in their numbers at that period.

In addition to many exchanges of fire and small operations, the first major battle he had face to face with the Soviet army with pure Arab personnel was the battle of Jaji in the province of Baktia 200 kilometers away from Khost. From then until 1989 he had more than five major battles with hundreds of small operations and exchanges of fire. During the period 1984-1989 he was staying more in Afghanistan than Saudi Arabia. He would spend a total of eight months a year or more in Afghanistan.

In 1988 he noticed that he was backward in his documentation and was not able to give answers to some families asking about their loved ones gone missing in Afghanistan. He decided to make the matter much more organized and arranged for proper documentation. He made a tracking record of the visitors, be they mujahedeen or charity or simple visitors. Their movement between the guesthouse and the camps had to be recorded as well as their first arrival and final departure. The whole complex was then termed Al-Qa'edah which is an Arabic word meaning "The Base." Al-Qa'edah was very much public knowledge. It was funny to see some people triumphing because they discovered it!

Late 1989 after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, he went to the kingdom in an ordinary trip. There he was banned from travel and was trapped in the kingdom. The Soviet withdrawal might have been a factor but the main reason for the travel ban were his intentions to start a new "front" of jihad in South Yemen. In addition, he embarrassed the regime by lectures and speeches warning of impending invasion by Saddam. At that time the regime was at very good terms with Saddam. He was instructed officially to keep low profile and not to give public talks. Despite the travel ban he was not hostile to regime at this stage. Indeed he presented a written advice in the form of a detailed, personal, private and confidential letter to the king few weeks before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

He reacted swiftly to Iraqi invasion and saw it fulfilling his prophecy. He immediately forwarded another letter to the king suggesting in detail how to protect the country from potentially advancing Iraqi forces. In addition to many military tactics suggested, he volunteered to bring all the Arab mujahedeen to defend the kingdom. That letter was presented in the first few days of the incident, and the regime response was of consideration!

While he was expecting some call to mobilize his men and equipment he heard the news which transferred his life completely. The Americans are coming. He always describes that moment as shocking moment. He felt depressed and thought that maneuvers had to change. Instead of writing to the king or approaching other members of the royal family, he started lobbying through religious scholars and Muslim activists. He succeeded in extracting a fatwah from one of the senior scholars that training and readiness is a religious duty. He immediately circulated that fatwah and convinced people to have their training in Afghanistan. It was estimated that 4000 went to Afghanistan in response to the fatwah. The regime was not happy with his activities so they limited his movement to Jeddah only. He was summoned for questioning twice for some of his speeches and activities and was given warnings. To intimidate him, the regime raided his farm in the suburb of Jeddah by the National Guard. He was not there during the raid and was very angry when told. He wrote a letter of protest to Prince Abdullah. Abdullah apologized and claimed he is not aware and promised to punish who ever were responsible.

Osama was fed up with this almost house arrest situation and did not imagine himself able to stay in the country with the American forces around. One of his brothers was very close to King Fahad and also close to Prince Ahmed, deputy minister of interior. He convinced his brother that he needed to leave the country to sort out some business matters in Pakistan and come back. There was a difficult obstacle, the stubborn Prince Nayef, minister of interior. His brother waited until Nayef went in a trip outside the kingdom and extracted lifting the ban from prince Ahmed. When he arrived in Pakistan around April 1991 he sent a letter to his brother telling him that he is not coming back and apologized for letting him down with the royal family.

After his arrival to Pakistan he went straight to Afghanistan because he knew the Pakistani intelligence would hand him back to the Saudis. There, he attended the collapse of the communist regime and the consequent dispute between the Afghan parties. He spent great effort to arbitrate between them but with no success He ordered his followers to avoid any involvement in the conflict and told them it was a sin to side with any faction. During his stay the Saudis tried more than once to kidnap or kill him in collaboration with the Pakistani intelligence. His friends in the Saudi and Pakistani establishments would always leak the plan and make him ready for it. After his failure in sorting the Afghani dispute, he decided to leave Afghanistan. The only alternative country he had was Sudan. He left Afghanistan disguised in private jet only few months after his arrival. That was late 1991.

His choice of Sudan had nothing to do with jihad or "terrorism." He was attracted to Sudan because of what was at that time an Islamic banner raised by the new regime in Sudan. He wanted to have good refuge as well as help the government in its construction projects. There was no intention from his side or from the Sudanese regime to have any military activity in Sudan. Indeed the Sudanese government refused even sending some of his followers to the front in the south. He was treated in Sudan as a special guest who wanted to help Sudan when everybody was turning away. In Sudan he mobilized a lot of construction equipment and enrolled himself in busy construction projects. He spent good effort in convincing Saudi businessmen to invest in Sudan and had reasonable success. Many of his brothers and Jeddah merchants had and still have investment in real estate, farming and agricultural industry. In Sudan he had again escaped an assassination attempt which turned out later to be the plan of Saudi intelligence.

During his stay in Sudan anti-American incidents happened in Somalia and South Yemen. Neither of the two incidents was performed by his group in the proper sense of chain of command. Both were performed by people who had training in Afghanistan and had enough anti-American drive. He might have given some sanctioning to the operations but one thing was certain, the Sudanese were completely unaware of either.

Between his arrival to Sudan and early 1994 he was not regarded publicly as Saudi opposition and Saudi citizens were visiting him without too much precautions. Only the well-informed people would know that he was classified as enemy to the Saudi regime. His assets were frozen sometime between 1992 and 1994 but that was not published. The Saudis decided to announce their hostility early 1994 when they publicized withdrawing his citizenship.

After long silence and tolerance, bin Laden replied by issuing a communiqué condemning the Saudi decision and saying that he does not need the "Saudi" reference to identify himself and it is not up to Al-Saud to admit or expel people from Arabian Peninsula. He then formed together with activists and scholars from the kingdom a group called "Advice and Reform Committee" (ARC). The ARC was, according to its communiqués and published agenda, a purely political group. The ARC published around 17 communiqués which might have contained harsh criticism of the Saudi regime and plenty of religious rhetoric but never contained reference for violence or incitment of violence.

The car bomb in spring 1995 in Riyadh was the first major anti-American action in the kingdom. Bin Laden never claimed responsibility, but the Saudi government tried to link the incident to bin Laden by showing video confessions of four "Arab Afghans" involved in the bombing.

Sudan was exposed to huge international pressure for hosting bin Laden and his followers, and bin Laden felt that he is becoming an embarrassment to the Sudanese. Early in 1996 he started making contacts with his old friends in Afghanistan to prepare for his reception. He fled Sudan in a very well planned trip with many of his followers to go straight to Jalalabad in Eastern Afghanistan.

When he arrived there, the situation in Afghanistan was very unsettled between the many factions, but he had very good relations with all factions and all would protect him. The area he arrived to was under control of Yunis Khalis, a very influential warlord who later on joined Taliban.

June 1996, after his arrival in Afghanistan was the Khobar bombing. Nobody claimed responsibility, but sources from inside the Saudi ministry of interior confirmed involvement of Arab Afghans, with possible link to bin Laden The Saudi government wanted to frame Shi'a, at the beginning but Americans were very suspicious of the Saudi story. Bin Laden himself never claimed responsibility but gave many hints that he might have been involved. The Saudi government has acknowledged recently that bin Laden's men were behind the bombing.

After few months of his arrival he issued his first anti-American message, a Declaration of War. That declaration was limited to expelling American forces outside the Arabian Peninsula. His sense of security and nobody to embarrass must have been the drive to release that 12 page declaration. Interest in him by the Saudis never stopped and they tried very hard to convince Yunis Khalis to hand him over, and he flatly refused despite the luxurious offers.

Taliban swept Jalalabad late 1996, almost without war, and bin Laden came under their control. He was optimistic that they will give him sanctuary but he was not sure. He was surprised when a delegation of Taliban came to meet him by order of Mullah Omer, the leader of Taliban, with instructions to reassure him that he will have even better protection under Taliban. The delegation expressed Taliban honor of protecting somebody like him who sacrificed a lot for the sake of jihad.

The Saudis never gave up. Early 1997 they bought some mercenaries in the Pakistani Afghani border. The operation was arranged with the Pakistani intelligence. The information leaked to bin Laden and he decided to move immediately to Qandahar, the stronghold of Taliban. The operation was then cancelled.

When bin Laden left Jalalabad, he ordered many of his followers to join Taliban in their war against Dostum and to protect Kabul. The unexpected happened. Taliban troops were fooled by a trap in the north and Kabul front was exposed to Shah Masood. Taliban were so disorganized at that stage that it was only those few Arabs who were there to push Shah Masood off Kabul and they did efficiently.

The leader of Taliban Mulla Omer was keen to meet Osama. He met him early 1997 after two TV interviews, Channel 4 and CNN. Mulla Omer expressed respect and admiration but requested him to have low profile. He stressed that that was a request and not an order. Osama replied with appreciation and thanks and reassured Mulla Omer that he was going very low profile.

Sometime in late 1997 a big operation was planned by the Americans. The primary plan was for American special forces to attack bin Laden's residence in Qandahar and kidnap him in a commando style operation. The plan was mocked in Pakistani desert and proved dangerous. While the Americans were reconsidering the decision, the news leaked to bin Laden, again through the Pakistani military, and he made it public. That was published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi in London. The Americans had no choice but to cancel. Americans acknowledged this incident only recently, but did not acknowledge the leak.

Bin Laden noticed that the driving force in Taliban were Ulema (religious scholars). He made very good links with them and lobbied specifically for the subject of American forces in the Arabian Peninsula. He was able to extract a fatwah signed by some 40 scholars in Afghanistan sanctioning the use of all means to expel the American forces from the Peninsula. The issue of that fatwah was an asset to him inside Taliban domain. He felt that Ulema were at his back and he can go high profile after long silence.

His second presence in Afghanistan has attracted many mujahedeen to move there again. Among those were Ayman El-Zawahery of Egyptian Jihad and Rift'ee Taha of Jama'a Islamia. There was also new phenomenon during that period. Bin Laden decided to go pan-Islamic instead of Saudi or Arabic. He attracted Kashmiris, Pakistanis, Indians, and Muslims from the Soviet Republics. He thought at that stage that he could make an international alliance against America. In February 1998 he declared the formation of the International Front. The declaration contained two elements, formation of the front and a fatwah sanctioning killing Americans and Jews. Apart from two Arabic newspapers, the declaration had minimal coverage by the press.

After avoiding the media for almost a year he decided to open the door wide for them. In April 1998 he received the ABC TV team and two weeks later he held press conference in Khost and warned of impending attack in few weeks time. Mulla Omer was not happy with this new media escalation, but felt it difficult to control him while he is protected by the scholars. Indeed bin Laden said that he would abide with what ever the Ulema board decides

The bombings in Kenya and Tanzania July 1998 were not a big surprise. Yes, it was a surprise but in terms of choice of location and targets. Despite his declaration of war against America anywhere, the attack was expected inside Saudi Arabia. Having said that, it is not [to be taken] for granted that he is behind the bombing.

It is not known why the Americans chose a camp in Khost to retaliate. The camp was an almost deserted camp where only few Arabs have stayed, with a neighboring camp of Kashmiris. Bin Laden himself was hundreds of miles away, and the rest of Arab Afghans were in the northern front celebrating their recent victories.

Since the American attack bin Laden was put in heavy protection and advised to stay hiding. His followers made another credit when they protected Kabul front again and pushed Masood forces back.

Bin Laden was brought up with good manners. He matured as extremely humble and very generous person. He insists to join his comrades in every act. Very frequently he cooks for them and serves them. He lives a simple life in a small flat in Jeddah or in a shed in Afghanistan and insists on his family to eat simple and to dress simple.

He is known to be strictly truthful and would never lie, but he is politically conscious and believes there is a room for political maneuver even if you are devoted person. Despite being shy he has dominating personality. He speaks very little and looks serious most of the time. He would appear with a soft smile but he seldom laughs. His followers see a lot of aura on him and show great voluntary respect to him. For some reason that falls short of a proper charisma. He is not known for giving distinguished speeches, and there is almost no audio or video recordings of him.

He is widely educated and spends a good deal of time reading. He is fond of media monitoring and information gathering and research. There was always a data management team with him wherever he went.

Among the outstanding features is his courage. He will not show a flicker even if a bomb exploded near him. He was exposed to more than 40 incidents of heavy bombardment, three of them were full of death and flesh around him. A Scud missile exploded 17 meters distance from him. At one time he was almost the victim of chemical weapons. More than once he needed treatment in hospital for body injuries. Despite this courage he is very cautious person. He would not keep any electronic instrument close to his vicinity. Some times he even avoids any device even if it is a simple watch near him because he believes this might help in targeting him.

He is intelligent and has reasonable strategic thinking, but he downgrades himself in the presence of Islamic scholars. He always admires Shiekh Safar al-Hawali and would have not gone through his current controversial path if al-Hawali was free. Some people saw him as a man with vision, others doubt it. They think that he never had clear long term plan. They see the last fatwah as evidence of that.

Contrary to what is always reiterated bin Laden has never had official relations with the Saudi regime or the royal family. All his contacts would happen through his brothers. The brothers would approach two members of the royal family who were fairly sympathetic to Osama. They were Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, deputy minister of interior and Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz, deputy minister of defense. He might have met them in few occasions but those meetings would have been purely social or accidental in one of his brother's houses. Specifically he had no relation with Turki al-Faisal head of Saudi intelligence. He used to be very suspicious of his role in Afghanistan and once had open confrontation with him in 1991 and accused him of being the reason of the fight between Afghan factions. He was wary of the Saudi government very early in the eighties, but he thought it was wiser to keep silent and benefit from their de facto support to jihad in that period.

Bin Laden has never had any relation with America or American officials. Claims of relation with CIA or other American departments are all unfounded. Since the late seventies he had strong anti-American feeling. He committed himself and family and advised all friends to avoid buying American goods unless it was necessary. He was saying very early in the eighties that the next battle is going to be with America. ... No aid or training or other support have ever been given to bin Laden from Americans. Bin Laden would bring money from individuals donating straight to him. The weapons he had were either captured from the Soviets or bought from other factions.

Again there were no official relations with officials in Pakistani government. However, he had paramount respect by many Pakistanis including people in the army, intelligence and religious establishment. They were so penetrating that they would always leak any plan against him by the Pakistani-Saudi-American alliance.

His relation with Taliban would best be understood if Taliban themselves are understood properly. First of all Taliban are not simply another Afghan faction supported by Pakistan. Taliban are sincere to their beliefs, a religiously committed group unspoiled by political tactics. They would never bargain with what they see as matters of principle. Bin Laden for them is a saint. He is a symbol of sacrifice for the sake of jihad. They see him as very rich Arab from the Holy Land who gave up his wealth and luxury to fight for the sake of his brother Muslims in Afghanistan. They see themselves performing a double duty here, an Islamic duty of protecting this distinguished person and a tribal duty of protecting a descent refugee. The latter is a big value in Afghanistan. Once, a Taliban leader said to a Saudi envoy that if a goat would seek refuge to my tent I would never hand it over, how on earth do you want us to hand over a holy man like bin Laden?

There was no argument within Taliban about handing over bin Laden. There is however some difference in opinion about how high his media profile should be.

In addition to the factor of principle, bin Laden had twice had the credit of protecting Kabul recently.

Bin Laden became an intimate part of Taliban structure when he taught them how to deal with state affairs in a proper manner. For example, they were to be fooled by some oil and gas companies and sell the pipeline project for cheap. He advised them to learn from the Iraq-Turkey and Iraq-Syria agreements. They wanted to privatize some factories and were about to sell them to Pakistani businessmen for cheap prices. He taught them how to conduct proper bidding procedure and guarantee good prices.

It is needless to say that bin Laden has not had any relation with Iran. Iran knows that bin Laden is a committed Sunni and he regards Iran as Shi'a state. The trust between the two is minimal but both have avoided criticizing each other publicly. Having said that, he sees America as common enemy and according to a Pakistani newspaper he regards an anti-American alliance with Iran and China as something to be considered.

bin Laden has two circles of followers. First are the closed core followers who are related to him by a chain of command and take orders like a secret organization. Most of those are probably in Afghanistan. Many are inside Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and probably Gulf countries. Like any secret group, those followers would not disclose their relation. Inside Saudi Arabia many of those would appear like any average citizen. The number of those is probably in hundreds.

The second circle is much wider and the number is probably in thousands. They are located in the same countries. They would look at bin Laden as Godfather but they do not have proper chain of command or secret links with him. They would regard themselves obliged to perform some of his general orders. Most of those followers are not organized and get trapped by the Saudi police fairly easily. But some are intelligent and make use of the loose nature of their structure to function without attracting attention.

Before his final departure from Saudi Arabia, his financial activities were almost copies of his brothers. Indeed, he is still part of the big mother company. However he had committed himself at very early stage to a special code which he thought was necessary to guarantee the Islamic nature of this activity. For example he would never invest in non-Islamic country. He would never use banks unless it was absolutely necessary. He does not believe in stock market because he thought the investor cannot escape interest since the money has to be in a bank and produce some interest. He is also preoccupied with the idea that Jews control banks and stock market.

He had three setbacks which would have made him bankrupt otherwise. The first was the freezing of his direct assets by the Saudi government. All his traceable money was frozen including his share in the big mother company of bin Laden. No body knows the exact amount but it was probably in the range of 200-300 million Dollars.

The second setback was the loss he had in Sudan. The Sudanese government was too weak financially to pay him for the construction projects and he ended up hardly with 10% of the payment. He lost in Sudan not less than 150 million dollars.

The third setback happened last year when one of his close aids defected to the Saudi government. The defector Sidi Tayyib Al-Madani had some financial information about him until early 1995. Bin Laden knew about the plans of this man to defect and so had few months to liquidate the few businesses known to this defector. There was very little trace of those businesses but dismantling them was not without loss.

There is, however the other side of the story. Bin Laden is a member of a big family. His father's financial inheritance has not been sorted. The brothers agreed to keep many assets of the father and distribute the profits only. Most of the brothers and sisters are observing Muslims and very keen not to "spoil" their income with money which is not theirs. They believe it is their duty to let the owner of any riyal to have it. The only way they guarantee that is by letting bin Laden's share reach him. Some of the brothers and sisters believed it was their religious duty to support this distinguished brother from their own money. While many are very careful not to irritate the royal family, many more do not care and insist on letting the money reach Osama.

The way bin Laden family money is structured is very complicated because there is the big company and there are many small companies of few brothers together, and there are many individuals with their personal investment. To make the matter even more complex it is very well known that bin Laden family money is intimately mixed with the royal family money in a very complex way. Most of the companies are joint ventures with members of the royal family including King Fahad himself.

There is another big source of income to bin Laden, donations. During the early jihad era when it was blessed by the Saudi regime, he made excellent relations with many wealthy Saudis and Arabs. It is true that most of those would not support him now because of the Saudi government position but some do take the risk.

Lastly, bin Laden activities are not very dependent on money. His followers are not mercenaries. Training does not cost a lot of money. Explosives and weapons are very cheap in some parts of the world. In Somalia TNT for example is cheaper than sugar. In Yemen you can buy an RPG for less than TV set. The role of money here is over exaggerated by many writers.

In the eighties bin Laden was seen as a star of the Afghan Jihad. He was very much admired and respected for his sacrifice but he was not seen as a potential leader. Almost nobody saw leadership ambitions in him at that period. His public image was so good that the regime used this image to have a boost during early days of the Gulf War. The regime published a fabricated interview with him in "Al-Muslimoon" newspaper claiming he supported the regime measures to counteract the Iraqi invasion.

In the period between Iraqi invasion and his reappearance in Afghanistan 1996 he was almost forgotten by the public. The elite and especially the jihadis were still admiring him and following up his news. Some even made their way to Sudan to meet him and offer support. The public were reminded about him by the video confessions of the group attributed to Riyadh bombing.

After his declaration of jihad in 1996 his public image had a surge but this time as a leader rather than a star. There was a lot of controversy about him. In Saudi Arabia nobody would accuse him of being part of conspiracy but people would differ about his new program. There was almost a consensus in the Saudi domain on refusal of American presence in Arabia and many would like the idea of expelling the Americans by force. Many others had reservations and thought violence will bring a lot of trouble to the country. Interestingly those who disagreed with him did not accuse him having personal agenda or looking for personal benefits.

This image went on with occasional boosts by the media until the African bombings. Interestingly the story of the International Front and fatwah did not attract much attention. The Kenya Tanzania bombings reminded people of bin Laden. The media coverage was so overwhelming that the Saudi authorities felt jealous of bin Laden. People's reaction, however, was mixed. While many felt triumph for scaring the Americans, many others felt upset by the picture of hundreds of civilians killed and injured in the attack. They felt that this can never be justified.

The American missiles then played very strong role in sorting the controversy. After the American attack on Sudan an d Afghanistan it became almost shameful to criticize bin Laden. People inside Saudi Arabia and in other Arab countries were full of anger towards America, and whoever can antagonize America would provide a fulfillment to their desire of discharging their anger. The American strike with the associated remarks by Clinton and American officials proved that bin Laden is a big challenge to America. In the mind of average Arab and Muslim bin Laden appeared as the man who was able to drive America so crazy that it started shooting haphazardly at unjustified targets. There was another factor which made people forget the scene of civilian victims, the special nature of the Sudanese factory. Those who had reservations of the African bombings thought that this arrogance of the Americans is much worse than the embassy bombings. Their view was that while bin Laden or others can make "executive" mistake because of their difficult circumstances, logistics and communication, America is not supposed to do this mistake unless it is done in purpose.

Interestingly the jealousy of the Saudi regime was seen clearly in the Saudi media when they instructed the Saudi TV and radio not to mention bin Laden name at all. Even when they reported the American missile attack the news item was " attack on terrorist base in Afghanistan, period".





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